“The cottage was run-down but we knew it had plenty of potential,” says Lucy Thompson, as she describes the condition of the property she bought with husband Andrew. Situated in a dramatic location in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty near to Longleat in Wiltshire, it had character and charm but also, unfortunately, the less attractive traits associated with older homes — namely, rather tight space allowances and poor energy performance levels.

“It was crying out for an extension,” says Lucy, “but we knew that we needed to achieve it while respecting the original cottage. That said, we also recognised that a modern extension, sensitively finished, could work well — and, of course, would probably better help us achieve the space we wanted.”

The Project

  • Name: Andrew and Lucy Thompson
  • Build cost: £375,000 (£1,666/m²)
  • Build time: 2 years 11 months
  • Location: Wiltshire

The Design

Working with CaSA Architects, a Bath-based architectural practice, the couple gained consent for a substantial gable-ended, contemporary-style extension that went well beyond the normal planning allowance. The simple form of the existing gable structure to the front was replicated at the rear to provide two additional bedrooms at first floor level, with an open plan kitchen and dining room below.

A new entrance, stair and hall is contained within a narrow ‘spine’ located between the two gable structures — clearly defining the different zones within the property. “One of the best things about the new house is its flexibility,” says Lucy. “It’s brilliant as a party house, which incorporates the new build elements, but we can also close it down to bring out the cosy bits of the original house, huddled around a woodburning stove.”

Old cottage extension glazed corridor interior seating

Connecting Old with New

Quality natural materials are used externally, including blue lias stone to match the cottage, as well as cedar, zinc and oak. All are weathering to a subtle palette of different greys and sit comfortably against the original cottage and within the wider landscape. Internally, the spaces are carefully arranged to allow flexible family living, with double doors allowing spaces to work together or in isolation.

Old cottage extension cosy living room white beams

Eco Credentials

Super insulated walls and underfloor heating provide an extremely comfortable and efficient living environment in this exposed site — on the day of Homebuilding & Renovating’s visit to the house, the gale force winds outside allowed us to feel pleasingly cosy and snug inside. “We’ve managed to truly get the best of both worlds,” says Lucy. “The home feels full of character and warmth, but we’ve also got the space we wanted and feel better connected to outside. It has become a brilliant family home.”

Old cottage extension wood staircase in glazed link

Double-height spaces within the entrance hall provide a dramatic sense of volume and let light flood into the adjacent spaces

Old cottage extension glazed corridor lit at night

The small old cottage struggled for light, so the new extension introduces it wherever possible — including through this glazed rooflight, and large windows from Rationel  

Old cottage extension glazed link staircase exterior

A new hallway element provides the link between the old cottage and the extension

Old cottage extension front facade stonework traditional

The front elevation maintains the look of the original building – all the work is to the rear – but it has been repointed, and new windows and roof covering have been installed

Old cottage extension exterior timber cladding stone

While the shape of the extension nods to the cottage, it is distinctively contemporary, with vertical cedar cladding and a zinc roof from Rheinzink. The covered outdoor space was a key requirement of the couple’s brief

Old cottage extension open plan kitchen diner

The new extension is mainly given over to an open kitchen and dining space on the ground floor; the kitchen is from Wilton Kitchens

Old cottage extension open plan kitchen diner yellow splashback

Polished concrete floors throughout the ground floor connect these spaces, with oak joinery and flush frameless doors and cupboards creating a streamlined and spacious feel to the interior

Old cottage extension cosy living room fireplace

The original cottage has been restored and provides the ultimate cosy retreat. The stove is from Clearview

Old cottage extension glazed corridor to living room

A spot at the far end of the hall is a great example of the new trend for unassigned space — here it’s used for sitting and enjoying the garden, but it’s also used for parties

Old cottage extension home office in hallway stairs

The glazed link between old and new also provides space for an informal first floor office

Old cottage extension monochrome bathroom black sink

The bathroom enjoys stunning view across the countryside

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